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Don’t rush, to write better

University of Waterloo researchers speculate that simply typing more slowly may improve writing.

By ASHLEIGH VANHOUTEN | MAR 09 2016

It turns out the advice we’ve always being given to slow down – stop and smell the roses, chew your food at least 30 times – may be applicable to your writing as well. According to a recent study from the University of Waterloo published in the British Journal of Psychology, the secret to better essay writing may be simply to slow it down.

Researchers asked participants to type essays using both hands or only one hand; using text-analysis software, they discovered that certain elements of writing, such as vocabulary, improved when participants used one hand. Researchers suspect that slowing down “allows more time for internal word search” while faster typists may use the first (and not necessarily the best) word that comes to mind.

“We’re not saying that students should write their term papers with one hand, but our results show that going fast can have its drawbacks. This is important to consider as writing tools continue to emerge that let us get our thoughts onto the proverbial page faster and faster,” says the study’s senior author Evan Risko, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Embodied and Embedded Cognition at U of Waterloo. Speed may affect writing quality regardless of the tools used, the researchers speculate. That means taking your time with text-to-speech programs, computers or a pen and paper, too.

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